Metrics critic's marching orders

Queen Mary makes Fanis Missirlis, persistent thorn in management’s side, redundant

July 5, 2012

Source: Alamy

A lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London who has criticised the institution’s performance-based redundancy programme has had his contract terminated.

Simon Gaskell, Queen Mary’s principal, last week confirmed that Fanis Missirlis, a lecturer in the university’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, would be made redundant.

As previously reported in Times Higher Education, Dr Missirlis was among 11 of the school’s roughly 70-strong staff deemed to be “at risk” after failing to meet its metrics-based performance criteria, such as the number of papers published.

He has also faced four disciplinary investigations since he joined Queen Mary in 2007. One concerned a letter he wrote to students last November claiming that tuition fees of more than £6,000 could not be justified on the basis of teaching cost. Another related to a letter he co-wrote to medical journal The Lancet earlier this year criticising Queen Mary’s redundancy programme, which also affects its School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The college claimed the letter brought two senior figures overseeing the programme “into disrepute”.

Dr Missirlis said the redundancy criteria discriminated against people with heavy teaching loads and it was unfair to apply them retrospectively. He also claimed that they had not been applied equitably in his case.

He questioned the college’s assertion that his position was redundant given its admission that a replacement would have to be found to deliver his teaching.

Professor Gaskell confirmed Dr Missirlis’ redundancy last Thursday and informed him that he would be expected to leave the college the following day - although he will be paid for the duration of his three-month notice period.

Chris Pearson, Queen Mary’s director of human resources, said the redundancies were the result of a “rigorous review and restructure” that followed “extensive consultations with staff and trade unions”. He was unable to comment on individual cases but confirmed that anyone made redundant could appeal.

Dr Missirlis said he expected to do so, pending University and College Union advice.

He has also contacted hundreds of colleagues and former students in the hope that “a few dozen” would send letters of support.

Last month, Queen Mary UCU members resolved to proceed to a strike ballot over the redundancies.

paul.jump@tsleducation.com

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